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Hollywood Lives

What salvages the material, directed and lensed by Mark Israel, is its candor and the innocence of the participants.

What salvages the material, directed and lensed by Mark Israel, is its candor and the innocence of the participants.

There are no cynical cracks here, but the tone is gritty enough — one young casting agent leans toward a pouty, pampered 15-year-old fashion hopeful (Tamara Ruth) and reminds her, “This is a business!”

That line alone makes this smart viewing for the rose-colored-spectacles set.

Program is a refreshing thematic departure for the Disney Channel. The pace never slacks, intercutting three individual stories in each half-hour show.

Popular on Variety

Hollywood Lives

(Thurs. (3), 7:30-8 p.m., Disney)

Production: Filmed in Hollywood by WilMark with Buena Vista Television. Executive producers, Wili Baronet, Mark Israel; producer, Baronet; co-producer, Paul Dahmen; director, camera, Israel; editors, David Bret Egen, Sharon Rennert; theme, Mark Mothersbaugh. #With: Brandon Boyd, Mike Einziger, Brian Gross, Danielle Harris, Alex Katunich, Jamie Kennedy, Bianca Lawson, Poppi Monroe, Brandy Norwood, Devin Oatway, Jose Pasillas, Tamara Ruth. Anice-looking 17-year-old acting aspirant who's left a loving family in Iowa for the Hollywood promised land finally lands an audition for a TV role, after months of interviews and polite rejection. By the end of the docu, he's still full of hope but remarkably different: Heading back to Cedar Rapids, wannabe Brian Gross looks into the camera and says, "Casting agents tell me, 'You've got the right look for the part but' -- and this is what they're really saying --'you haven't got the talent.' " Not all the dreams on the new 10-part docu "Hollywood Lives" mirror that kind of brush with reality, but the three teen hopefuls in the premiere episode (the actor, a singer and a model) reflect the harsh and often humiliating demands of trying to make it in Hollywood.

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